Parents, teachers and students on both sides of the mask mandate debate expressed strong opinions at the Sept. 1 Mat-Su School Board meeting.

Mat-Su School Superintendent Randy Trani spoke to the audience at the start of the meeting, thanking all sides for coming out to share their opinions and urging everyone to show grace as the school district attempts to keep schools open with as few COVID restrictions as possible for students and staff.

The meeting came just two days after Mat-Su residents organized a protest rally outside Career Tech High School in which parents and students held signs urging school officials to let students attend classes mask free.

During the school board meeting a group of district employees, were joined by several students, community members and an employee at Capstone Clinic in asking the school board to mandate masks across the district. A slightly smaller block of parents and students noted that masks are ineffective at reducing COVID infections, while also causing mental and physical health issues for children – the least affected population when it comes to COVID illnesses.

Most of those who spoke against mask mandates did not opposed people wearing them if they chose but said it should be matter of personal freedom.

A large portion of the meeting was dominated by Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink who appeared via Zoom to urge the school board to consider masks, social distancing and other layers of protection for students and educators. When asked if she thought there would ever be a time when schools could finally get back to normal, she told the school board that COVID would have an impact for a while, and that schools should be prepared to deal with masks and other measures as the virus surges and wanes over the years. She also extoled the benefits of having children take the COVID shots and lamented the fact that most Mat-Su residence have declined to take the jabs.

“The Mat-Su unfortunately is one of the lowest vaccinated areas on the state,” she said. She did, however, complement the Mat-Su for having the largest district on the West Coast that stayed open during the last school year.

One member of the public pointed out that Zink’s one-sided presentation on masking should have been counter balanced by doctors and epidemiologists who disagree about the effectiveness of face coverings in schools.

Superintendent Trani said the district is trying to walk a fine line as it deals with parents on both sides of the debate. He is attempting to avoid alienating parents who have threatened to pull their children from the district.

“We really are between a rock and a hard place,” he said, noting the many emails and comments he receives on both sides of the issue. “We are trying to land somewhere in the middle.”

Trani noted that districtwide enrollment is up 4,000 students compared to this time last year, when many opted for home education or online schooling. That’s still 250 shy of what the district was expecting. Overall, he said 87% of students are now attending in-person classes while 13% are in correspondence.

Most of those who spoke against mask mandates did not opposed people wearing them if they chose but said it should be matter of personal freedom. One student said masks give her a headache and make it difficult to breath throughout the day. Others argued that masks create oxygen deficiency problems for kids, especially those with asthma or other conditions, and they also cause anxiety while creating distractions throughout the school day. One parent pointed out that there have been zero COVID deaths among Alaskans under age 18.

According to the Mat-Su Borough School District website, any school that is deemed “medium risk” may require masks in classrooms and throughout the building. If a single student tests positive for COVID, this can be enough to classify a school as “medium risk” and trigger the mandate.

As of Sept. 3, the district’s website reports that 23% of Mat-Su schools are currently classified as “medium risk,” with 11 now mandating masks. Butte Elementary and Glacier View are deemed “high risk” and both schools have been temporarily shuttered. Another 34 schools fall in the “low risk” category which only recommends masks but does not require them.


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Heated masking debate dominates Mat-Su School Board meeting

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Mongo Love Candy says:

    Dr. Zink is no better than the Fauci character, both are sick bastards for encouraging children to take this death shot. Sure give your kid this poison and watch their heart inflame and explode. Zink should lose her medical license for this Dr. Mengele level advice.

    • Sharon Turner says:

      The left goes nuts over any pushback to their tyrannical stances. I just looked up info on the Nuremberg Code. (*read for yourselves the basics on not forcing ANY medical testing on persons. Then I scrolled down further. Lo and behold a whole ridiculous rant on how only science and vacc deniers would push this type of freedoms and that Vaccines do not fall under the ‘forced testing, bans and oaths that doctors worldwide swear. How ignorant, are these disgusting power mongers. What could be more invasive than vials full of unproven bio agents shoved into our bodies?

  • Neil A DeWitt says:

    I agree with the one parent that said there should be equal time for a medical doctor on the opposite side of the fence. I don’t believe Fauci and yes Zink is his right hand in Alaska. We have not gotten much information on the negative side of masks or the coronavirus. It’s all jam it down our throats and take it. There has to be a negative side that the (Democrat) jammer don’t want us to know or find out about till it’s to late.

    Again this bring up the question of why is FEMA stock piling plastic coffins? Which side is going to need them?

  • Ralph says:

    The middle ground is letting people choose for themselves… which was the option all along.
    The people will choose for themselves.. we are not to be wards of the state.

    • Sharon Turner says:

      Well, Ralph: What are We the People prepared to do when they come yet again to our doors (*they already did knock on my door- I said yes I have had ‘vaccines’) . I live in partially HUD, Partly Native Corp. apartments. So do I get summarily evicted for refusing the ‘rape of my person’? Not today, I hope. Great grandma

    • Proud Alaskan says:

      SO AGREE

  • Andy says:

    Yes, excellent point! let people choose for themselves! Tyranny and oppression are horrible things that have long term psychological effects.

  • Opus says:

    Where in the Constitution or any other founding document did WE THE PEOPLE ever give government the authority to mandate anything?

  • Ross Perrine says:

    I believe in a free society where Dr. ZInk’s allowed to voice her professional opinion regarding face masks and covid injections. However it needs to be brought to everyone’s attention that there are quite a few medical professionals that would disagree with her about not only the need and efficacy of masks on children, but regarding the claimed safety and efficacy of these experimental and now quite quickly & rather suspiciously “FDA Approved” injections when no long term side effect studies having yet been done! It’s my humble opinion that our Governor, Dr. Zink, and the Dept. of Health & Social Services, share a responsibility in a public health emergency to provide the public with a balanced approach to public health that provides helpful information regarding both preventative protocols, such as taking Vitaman D, and Zinc along with readily available, effective, and inexpensive, and proven treatments such as Ivermectin, and Hydroxychloroquine. In my humble opinion, their Obsession with Promoting Vaccines, Exclusively, while Failing to provide the public with any information regarding Preventative Protocols, and Effective, Inexpensive & Readily Available Treatments, is inexcusable, a Betrayal of the Public Trust, and borders on Criminal Negligence! It appears that they have now become first and foremost Public Relations / Sales Reps for the Immensely Profitable and Liability Free Covid Vaccine Industry!

    • Proud Alaskan says:

      Right, supporting the pharmaceutical company. There getting rich off this fake vaccine that does not Stop you from getting covid, Stop you from spreading it, or Stop you from dying.
      It’s my choice not some government or municipality or state. To say what I do with my body when it comes to my medical needs

    • Evan S Singh says:

      Merck – Big Pharma – makes ivermectin.

  • Ceak says:

    These meetings should be flooded with parents that want it to end. My kids aren’t old enough to be in school. If they were, I’d be down there fighting against masks. Parents go tell them how you feel!

  • Wisdom Cries in the Streets says:

    “The biggest take home is masks work,” Zink said at the Mat-Su meeting.
    Where is this data? Is it in Europe where virtually NO children are required to wear masks?

    I also noticed that the “alaskasnewssource” article which I found the quote above scrubbed the previously noted quote from Zink in which she used hysterical fear-mongering saying she would be disappointed to hear that anyone have to take their child to the hospital and ask themselves if only there were something they could have done. It’s downright pathological the hysteria these people peddle in. Approximately ZERO children under the age of 18 have died from CoVID since March 2020. That is 16 months, friends, and more than one variant. This is Munchausen by proxy and I’m deeply saddened at the psychological damage this is doing to children.

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Ann Zink is a Lier. Do you remember when she said say home/lockdowns.
    And her family Including Herself, were in California at the beach partying.
    She just needs to SHUT UP it my choice not yours
    I’m in full support of the mat-su.
    No mask wearing for me are my family

  • Verne Rupright says:

    Zink is a reprehensible charlatan for the medical establishment that wants to dictate. She is not a trained virologist, in fact her background is emergency room. People’s choice should be the only guidance. If a person got the shots and wears a mask why would they be afraid of an unmasked unvaccinated person? And why would an unmasked unvaccinated person be afraid of the opposite? This is ridiculous!!!

  • Evan S Singh says:

    Merck – Big Pharma – makes ivermectin.

    • Dennis Doland says:

      Ivermectin was developed in the 1970s in Japan, so it is readily available as a generic drug now. Big Pharma wants to downplay its role in combatting CV-1984 because there is no money it.

  • Jenna Seymour says:

    1 Covid case in an entire to school be considered “Medium Risk” give me a break!
    Sat through 1st ASD board meeting & it was enough to pull our 3 boys from ASD.
    Just moved here from OR and I will not tolerate another yo-yo back & forth year of a sub par education.
    Mind you this is the 3rd consecutive school yr. all our kids are being affected by fear of a virus that poses ZERO risk for children. It’s ludicrous!
    If you are questioning you can always pull out & re-enroll if things get better.

  • Will says:

    The time for asking school boards for anything is over. Take a look at this. Parents don’t need to play by their communist rules anymore.